Cytokeratin-18 in Diagnosis of HCC in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tanta, Egypt.

2 Fakeeh college for Medical sciences (FCMS), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

3 Department of Medical Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tanta, Egypt

4 Faculty of Density, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

5 Department of Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tanta, Egypt.


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common malignancy that occurs secondary to viral hepatitis B and C cirrhosis under the influence of environmental factors. In early stages, clinical diagnosis is often difficult and distinguishing HCC from cirrhosis and other hepatic masses by conventional tests is frequently not feasible. Physicians usually depend on measuring serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), but this marker has low sensitivity and specificity. The aim of this research was to determine any role of serum cytokeratin-18(Ck-18) as a marker for diagnosis of HCC in patients with liver cirrhosis. Patients and methods: We used ELISA to measure the serum levels of AFP and CK 18 in 60 Egyptian patients (30 cirrhotic and 30 with HCC) and 30 controls. Results: The Ck-18 level was significantly elevated in the HCC group (1247.8± 105.3U/L) when compared to the liver cirrhosis (834.1± 38.8 U/L) and control groups (265.2±83.1U/L). Ck-18 as a marker showed 95.6% sensitivity, 93.3% specificity and 98.8% accuracy. The mean serum AFP was 4901.4±2185.8ng/ml in the HCC group, 100.7±71.7 ng/ml in the cirrhotic group, and 4.0±1.2ng/ ml in controls. AFP showed 55. 7% sensitivity, 97. 7% specificity and 84.4% accuracy. Combined use of both Ck-18 and AFP improved the sensitivity to 98%. Conclusion: Serum cytokeratin-18 level can be used as a diagnostic biomarker for HCC with a higher sensitivity than AFP.


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